Fantastic '80s Country Albums from the Lost and Found (Part 3): Foster and Lloyd

by Jeff Fiedler

Albums from the Lost & Found is a regular feature on thegreatalbums.com in which contributor Jeff Fiedler reviews and helps us rediscover great pop albums that seem to have been lost to time.

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Radney Foster and Bill Lloyd had already penned a major country hit in Sweethearts of the Rodeo’s “Since I Found You” by the time RCA offered the duo a label deal of their own.

Like Jo-El Sonnier and Michael Johnson, Foster and Lloyd didn’t exactly fit the normal Nashville mold; while their music was distinctly country-oriented, it also was largely influenced by the pop/rock of the ‘50s and ‘60s and could periodically recall acts as diverse as the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, and the Beatles, while Bill Lloyd was a huge power-pop buff, which gave the duo a harder-edged sound than many of their contemporaries.

The disc spawned three major Top Ten country hits in the honky-tonk swing of “Crazy Over You” (a duo original which had already been recorded by Ricky Van Shelton), the British Invasion-meets-the-Byrds jangle-pop of the killer ballad “Sure Thing” (why Marshall Crenshaw has never covered this song, I have no idea, because it sounds exactly like something he might write), and most fun of all, the cynical but playful “What Do You Want from Me This Time,” which is bursting with brilliance, from the immediacy of the chorus’ undeniable hook to the clever bridge lyric “Baby love don’t always have a happy ending, baby!”

The disc also yielded a fourth, if lower-charting, hit single in the country-rock of “Texas in 1880,” while even the album’s hard-rocking, paranoid CD-only bonus cut (also available to vinyl collectors as the B-side of “What Do You Want from Me This Time”) would go on to be a major hit in the form of a cover, Tanya Tucker and T. Graham Brown taking “Don’t Go Out with Him” all the way to #6 in 1990. Foster and Lloyd’s original is arguably even better, the duo’s punchy rendition making a fitting companion piece to equally snarling country-rock tunes like Dwight Yoakam’s “Fast as You.” Even the non-singles here are pretty brilliant in their own right, especially “Part I Know by Heart” and “Token of Love.”

The duo would make two more almost equally excellent albums in 1989’s hilariously-titled Faster and Llouder (sporting the fine singles “Fair Shake” and the Everly Brothers-like “Suzette”) and 1990’s Version of the Truth (spottier than the first two discs, but boasting an absolutely flawless wickedly-catchy single in the swinging “Is It Love”) before splitting up.

Foster’s first solo outing, Del Rio, TX 1959, was a surprise hit, yielding two Top Ten country hits and two additional Top Forty hits; while his later outings as a performer would fail to attract nearly as much attention, other country acts would continue to record his songs, Foster remaining a presence on the charts through hits like Keith Urban’s renditions of “Raining on Sunday” and “I’m In” and Sara Evans’ cover of “A Real Fine Place to Start.”